Today's e-files are lighter-weight and have less vibration than ever, so nail techs are using them for more aspects of the nail service than ever before. Use these practical tips from experienced e-file users to help stay on top of your electric file game.

1. Cleaning Between Toes

Use a cone bit to clean between the toes at an RPM of 10,000. Use even pressure and keep the handpiece moving to avoid heat build-up. Use the coarse bit first to remove the bulk and then the fine bit after to smooth the skin when finished.

2. Cleaning Toe Cuticles

Use this B3 bit to clean the cuticle from the toenails after pushing it back with a cuticle pusher. Use very little pressure when doing this to avoid heat; let the bit do the work. Remember to move the handpiece and not stay in one spot.

3. Seasoning an Arbor Band

Use an arbor band for natural nail prepping, but first make sure to bevel the edge of the arbor band. This will remove any sharp edges. Simply run it against a hand file while it is in a low setting for only a second to ensure you do not nick your client.

4. Prepping the Natural Nail

Use the e-file with arbor band on the lowest speed setting. Many e-files will “skip” or stop when used at the lowest setting. Do not use an e-file for prepping if it skips or stops, and do not use it at a higher speed setting to avoid this as this will cause excessive filing of the natural nail. Use no pressure whatsoever and let the electric file do the work for you. Make sure to get up near the cuticle area and sidewalls. 

5. Removing Lift

If there is any lifting around the cuticle area, use a medium carbide or diamond bit to cut a line just behind the lifted area. Make sure to be gentle, as these bits can do damage to the natural nail and must not come in contact with it.

6. Shaping the Nail

Using an over-grip, slightly adjust the client’s hand so you have a perfect view of the upper arch from the side profile. File the upper arch by keeping the base of the barrel in contact with the free edge, the body in contact with the apex, and the tip in contact with the cuticle area. 

7. Edge Thinning and Finishing

When finishing the nail enhancements, use a sanding band under the nail to reduce thickness and shorten the nail. Hold the sanding band flush under the nail’s free edge and use a slow speed to reduce the thickness and clean the underside of the nail.

8. Prepping the Free Edge

Using a two-week carbide cutting bit, cut a new smile line by holding the bit at a 45-degree angle, cutting the old product out at the smile line but leaving the thickness at the tip. Add a second glitter mix to the previous fill, giving a fade effect by using a lighter or darker color combination.

9. Under Edge Finishing

When using a carbide bit to clean under the nail, use a slightly faster speed and hold the bit flush to clean the nail and remove burrs.

10. Cuticle Prepping

For hard-to-reach corners, use a flame point silicone stone to gently remove stubborn pterygium from the nail plate in the cuticle area. At a very low speed, about 3,000 RPMs, gently start from the right side of the nail at the groove wall and slowly work around the cuticle and top of the nail until you reach the left side of the cuticle.

Tip: Turn the client’s hand, not the bit, to file around the sidewall and cuticle area.

Tip: Too much pressure or speed will damage the nail and cause heat, but not enough pressure will get you nowhere — find a happy medium.

11. Toenail Shortening

When performing a dry pedicure, shorten toenails with a Sapphire Pedicure Disk. This is very helpful to use if the nails are brittle and tend to crack in the wrong direction when using toenail cutters/nippers. Hold the bit at a 90-degree angle using a medium RPM, turning up the speed only as needed. High speeds can shred the edge of the nail. 

12. Shortening Enhancements

Keep the bit straight up and down vertically (a 90-degree angle) when shortening the free edge to avoid skipping. Skipping can cause the product to weaken and break down. With medium speed, hold the bit against the tip of the nail, and start from the left side and work your way to the right. Turn the speed down if needed.

13. Callus Filing

Pedicure bits are excellent to use for dry pedicures or to just add extra smoothness. The use of a cone or barrel pedicure diamond bit is great to smooth dry and hardened skin on the heel, ball, and sides of the feet as well as to reduce the appearance of cracked heels.It is best to use a medium to high RPM, and make sure you do not leave it on one spot too long, as it can get very hot and uncomfortable for the client.

Our thanks to Robert Munkel, Brittany Hogan, Marc Foley, and Amanda Schison, who contributed to this story.

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